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BHS alumni and pioneer aviatrix

By Fred Steiner

Dorothy “Dottie” Anderson
Jan. 7, 1926 – Dec. 8, 2012
Member BHS class of 1947

Dorothy “Dottie” Anderson took her first airplane ride when she was eight years old, a few years before Amelia Earhart launched an around-the-world flight attempt.

Anderson’s love of flying turned into a career, describing it this way: ‘From the time I saw my first airplane that was all I talked about. I can’t remember the time that I did not want to fly.”

As a member of the Bluffton High School graduating class of 1947 she did more than talk about flying. She learned to fly airplanes before she learned to drive automobiles. And, she built her own airplane, but that comes later in her story.

Logging over 40,000 hours in aerial flight during her lifetime, she taught hundreds of students and flew in air races throughout the country for over one-half century. Participating in 32 Air Race Classics, a 4th place was her best finish. Her final air competition, the 2011 Air Race Classic, an annual cross-country jaunt, took place a year before her death.

While flying was always her number one interest, her high school years were full of many other activities. Descriptive words accompanying her senior yearbook photo, a play on her initials, “D.A.,” became “Dauntless, debater, discreet, accomplished, alert, attentive actor.”

A.J.B. Longsdorf, Bluffton school superintendent, wrote this description of Anderson in a letter of recommendation: “Miss Anderson is a young woman of fine bearing, wholesome character, correct habits, plenty of initiative and a will to work.”

These characteristics and descriptive words translate to the following Bluffton High School accomplishments for Dottie:

• Salutatorian of the class of 1947

• Junior and senior class National Honor Society memberships

• National Thespians membership with leads in junior and senior class plays

• Band, orchestra and mixed ensembles participation

• President of Girls’ Athletic Association

• Student Patrol member

• Girls’ Reserve Cabinet


Here’s her story:

Beginning her flying career as a pilot of small aircraft while still in her teens, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and worked part-time and summers for a flying service in Findlay and Bowling Green.

Following high school graduation she enrolled at Bluffton College, but soon transferred to Bowling Green State University, where she earned a B.S. degree in education, with the intention of becoming a science teacher. Instead, she devoted her career teaching students to fly airplanes.

Click HERE for the rest of the story.